Davids: Southern Kings to adapt or die

BY MARC JACOBSON - MARCH 3, 2016

Southern Kings Coach, Deon Davids, has adopted an ‘adapt or die’ approach to his role as both a coach and a mentor to the team moving forward in this year’s extended Super Rugby campaign.

Davids is one of four novice South African coaches who took charge of their first Super Rugby encounters over the weekend. The other novices are Bulls coach, Nollis Marais; Cheetahs coach, Franco Smith and Stormers coach, Robbie Fleck.

Of the selection, it was only Fleck who came through the opening round with a victory, as the Stormers upheaved the Bulls 33-9.

The Cheetahs were unlucky, only going down by one point against newcomers, Jaguares. It was however, David’s Kings that got taught the greatest lesson, as they went down 43-8 to the Sharks at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in their first match after a three-year absence from the competition.

Resultantly, Davids told Business Day Live that he understands that he has a lot to learn on his role as coach.

"You need to adapt as quickly as possible," said Davids following his first Super Rugby match.

"You can’t get left behind. I understand that this is a learning curve and these are unique circumstances in terms of where the team is,” Davids added.

Davids also said that he felt humbled by this experience and insinuated that all teams at this level can never be underestimated, as they do not always know what to expect come game day.

“As a coach, you will never accept a defeat and you always want to be on the winning side. We need to revisit the plans we had, why we failed to execute them, and how we can improve," he said.

Davids use to coach the South Western District Eagles and the Vodacom Cup Golden Lions side before being appointed as Head Coach of the Eastern Cape franchise.

He was not the first candidate to replace former Eastern Province Kings Coach, Brent Janse van Rensburg, who had a fall-out with the union following their failure to pay salaries.

It was expected that one of the South African Rugby Union (SARU) big-name coaches would take over at the Kings following the contractual agreement made with the franchise and SARU, as well as the deployment of the Mobi Unit at the union led by Rassie Erasmus.

In his first big-time match as coach on Saturday, the Kings initiated a relatively strong start against the Sharks, scoring the first try of the game in the first several minutes. The Sharks then progressively crept into control as they took a 15-8 half-time lead.

"We were quite calm in the coaches’ box at the beginning, although we didn’t know what to expect in the first half," said Davids.

"It was quite a tight game at the start, but at half-time, I was not happy with our work rate,” he added.

In the second half, the Sharks scored four unanswered converted tries, as they flattened the Kings out of contention.

“When we conceded those two quick tries in the second half, we were on the back foot and had to make quick changes in our strategy," Davids said. 

"It’s a bit early in the season, but what I already know is that the analysis that is done at this level in terms of individual and team performances is quite extensive."

The Kings have a bye this coming weekend, followed by a home game against the Chiefs next week at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Image: Southern Kings Head Coach, Deon Davids.